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Agnes Scott College was established in 1889 with a distinctive mission: to educate women for the betterment of their families and the elevation of their region. The college was named in honor of Agnes Irvine Scott, a Scots-Irish immigrant who upheld a strong sense of integrity and intellectual curiosity.
Alverno College is an institution of higher education sponsored by the School Sisters of Saint Francis and dedicated to the undergraduate education of women. The student - her learning and her personal and professional development - is the central focus of everyone associated with Alverno.
When it was founded in 1889, Barnard was one of very few American colleges where women could receive the same challenging education as men did. The College was named after Frederick A.P. Barnard, then the 10th president of Columbia University, who fought unsuccessfully to admit women to Columbia.
Bay Path University was founded in 1897 in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a coeducational business school offering programs in accounting, business administration, secretarial science, and business teacher training. In 1945, Bay Path moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and it restricted its enrollment to young women. Four years later, it received approval to be chartered as Bay Path Junior College. In 1988, the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education authorized Bay Path Junior College to become a four-year degree-granting institution, and its name was officially changed to Bay Path College. Maintaining its commitment to women-only undergraduate programs, as well as coeducational graduate programs, in 2014 the College became Bay Path University.
Bennett College is the only historically African American college for women in North Carolina and is one of two such HBCUs in the country. Founded in 1873 as a coed institution and reorganized as a college exclusively for women in 1926, today Bennett is a private, four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Founded as a private institution for the education of women, Brenau began life in 1878 as Georgia Baptist Female Seminary. In 1900 H. J. Pearce purchased the institution and renamed it Brenau, a linguistic blend formed from the German word brennen, “to burn”, and the Latin aurum, “gold”.
When Bryn Mawr College opened its doors in 1885, it offered women a more ambitious academic program than any previously available to them in the United States. Other women's colleges existed, but Bryn Mawr was the first to offer graduate education through the Ph.D.—a signal of its founders' refusal to accept the limitations imposed on women's intellectual achievement at other institutions.
Mother Irene Gill, O.S.U., founded the College of St. Angela as the first Catholic college for women in New York State in 1904, sixteen years before women won the right to vote. On September 12, twelve freshman began classes in Leland Castle. At that time, young women were generally excluded from higher education, making the task set out for the College’s Ursuline foundresses an important one.
Founded in 1913, the College of Saint Benedict embraces the rich heritage of bold leadership and pioneering spirit of its Benedictine founders, the Sisters of Saint Benedict's Monastery. The college’s dedication to the power of the liberal arts is a cornerstone of the Benedictine wisdom tradition. In addition, the college expresses its Benedictine character through the practice of enduring Benedictine values, including community, hospitality and service.
Founded in 1899 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the College of Saint Elizabeth is the oldest four-year Catholic liberal arts college for women in the State of New Jersey, and one of the first Catholic women's colleges in the United States. CSE continues to be a leader of higher education. In 2014, CSE was named in the top 100 universities north by U.S. News and World Report, and also a College of Distinction.
Mother Mary Leo Gallagher, a Sister of Mercy, carried on the tradition that valued educating women and opened the doors of College of Saint Mary in 1923 in the old Continental Hotel at 15th and Castelar Streets. The church schools needed teachers. To be effective in these positions, Mother Gallagher believed women needed a strong liberal arts education.
The University of Denver was founded in 1864 as Colorado Seminary by John Evans, Colorado Territory's second governor. The seminary closed its doors temporarily after a few years in the unstable economic landscape of Denver's gold rush. However in 1880, Colorado Seminary re-opened as the University of Denver, and in 1888, Colorado Women's College was founded and officially opened it's doors in 1909.
Founded as Columbia Female College in 1854 by the United Methodist Church, Columbia College is one of the oldest women’s colleges in the country. When General Sherman and his troops marched through Columbia in 1865, the school was saved from being torched when Professor of Music W.H. Orchard, having heard that all unoccupied buildings would be burned, left his home in the middle of the night to protect the College by standing in the doorway where he could be seen by troops. Artist Georgia O’Keeffe was on the faculty in 1915-1916 and described her time at the College as “an important time in my life and some of my most important early drawings were made at that time at Columbia College. It started me on my way.”
Although the doors of Converse opened October 1, 1890, the first step towards the founding of the college was taken in 1889 when a prominent attorney assembled a group of Spartanburg citizens to discuss the project. Among the 13 men was Dexter Edgar Converse, a native of Vermont who had settled in Spartanburg before the Civil War. His contributions to the college were so valuable it was given his name.
Cottey College was founded in 1884 by Virginia Alice Cottey. She said,"When I was a small child I read a book about Mary Lyon, the founder of Mount Holyoke College for Women. It gave me a purpose in life and I devoted all my energy to learning and teaching so that if the time ever came when I could found my own school, I would be ready."
At the start of the 20th century’s second decade, the State of New Jersey offered limited higher education for women. That changed when the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, active in the women’s rights movement at that time, convinced Mabel Smith Douglass to head a committee that would establish a women’s college as part of Rutgers University. Through a mix of dedication and persistence, Mrs. Douglass convinced the Rutgers trustees to support the venture.
In 1838, at a time when formal education for women was rare, several people of extraordinary faith and vision had the goal of establishing a school in Marion, Alabama to provide young women with an education of the same quality men received at Harvard or Yale. The founders named the school The Judson Female Institute after Ann Hasseltine Judson, the first American woman to serve as a foreign missionary.
Founded as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842 by Rufus W. Bailey, Mary Baldwin College is the oldest institution of higher education for women in the nation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Among its first students, totaling 57 young women (paying as much as $60 per semester to attend), was Mary Julia Baldwin.
Meredith College has been educating strong, confident women for more than a century. Chartered in 1891, the College opened with 200 students and a mission to provide a first-rate course of female education. Today Meredith is one of the largest independent women’s colleges in the U.S., graduating nearly 500 students each year who come from across the country and around the world.
In 1852, two years after California was admitted to statehood, the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California was established by nine citizens in what became the state capital. Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865 for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and moved it in 1871 to its current 135-acre oasis.
Founded by Sarah Worthington Peter in 1848, Moore College of Art & Design is the first and only women’s visual arts college in the nation. Established as the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, the College continues to thrive on the promise of empowering women to achieve financial independence by providing a high-quality, career-focused education.
Chemist and educator Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke College (then called Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in 1837, nearly a century before women gained the right to vote. As the first of the Seven Sisters—the female equivalent of the once predominantly male Ivy League—Mount Holyoke has led the way in women's education.
Mount Saint Mary’s University was established in 1925 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Since their founding in Le Puy, France, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs) have been faithful to their original mission of "helping women become all they are capable of being" and of "serving all persons without distinction."
Established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Notre Dame of Maryland University has anticipated and met contemporary needs with visionary and pragmatic educational programs since 1895. It was the first Catholic college for women to award the 4-year baccalaureate degree.
Russell Sage College was founded in Troy in 1916 by suffragist Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, with the guidance of Eliza Kellas, head of the college preparatory Emma Willard School (also located in Troy). Together they founded Russell Sage College as a school of practical arts, one of the very first institutions to offer women the means of economic and social independence through preparation for professional careers.
Saint Mary’s promotes a life of intellectual vigor, aesthetic appreciation, religious sensibility, and social responsibility. Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s College’s is a four-year, Catholic, residential, women’s liberal arts college offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Online and hybrid graduate programs are offered in several in-demand fields.
Believing that women deserved an education comparable to that given men -- a radical view for that era -- the Moravians began a school for girls in 1772. In 1802, it became a boarding school for girls and young women; in 1866, it was renamed Salem Female Academy. Salem began granting college degrees in the 1890s.
Educator, publisher, and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps dedicated her dreams as well as her resources to pioneering an innovative setting for women's education as an integral part of The Claremont Colleges. At ninety years of age, she still saw life in terms of possibility and spoke of the women's college that opened its doors in 1926 as her "new adventure."
Simmons College was founded in 1899 by Boston businessman John Simmons, who had a revolutionary idea — that women should be able to earn independent livelihoods and lead meaningful lives. It was this same spirit of inclusion and empowerment that produced the first African-American Simmons graduate in 1914, and made Simmons one of the only private colleges that did not impose admission quotas on Jewish students during the first half of the 1900s.
Smith College began more than 140 years ago in the mind and conscience of a New England woman. Sophia Smith, who inherited a large fortune at age 65, decided that leaving her inheritance to found a college for women was the best way to fulfill her moral obligation to provide an education for women equal to that available for men.
Spelman was founded in 1881 as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary by Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles. The name was changed in 1884 to Spelman Seminary in honor of Mrs. Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her parents Harvey Buel and Lucy Henry Spelman, longtime activists in the antislavery movement.
St. Catherine University (formerly the College of St. Catherine) was founded in St. Paul in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, under the leadership of Mother Seraphine Ireland. The University is named for St. Catherine of Alexandria, the fourth-century Egyptian lay philosopher who suffered martyrdom for her faith.
The West was wild, and for the most part, the frontier unsettled when Col. Richard Gentry called together Columbia’s 14 leading male citizens on Aug. 24, 1833, to discuss the education of their daughters at the Columbia Female Academy. Years later, James L. Stephens endowed the College with $20,000, and the institution was renamed the Stephens Female College.
Over a century ago, Trinity College was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as the nation’s first Catholic liberal arts college for women. Beginning with the first graduating class of 1904, the mission of Trinity has been realized in the lives of her graduates.
In 1932, the Sisters of Mercy of Connecticut set out on a remarkable journey. Their mission: to establish the first liberal arts college for women in the Hartford area; one founded on the principles of service and leadership; one determined to develop the potential of women in a complex and evolving world. -
Chartered in 1836, Wesleyan became the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women. Since then, we’ve sent scores of women out into the world to do the impossible, the amazing, and the extraordinary, like the first woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree in Georgia and the first woman to argue a case before the Georgia Supreme Court.